Selma tells a story of a human being, a campaign and a victory. The human being is Martin Luther King, the campaign was to gain the rights for black citizens to register for voting without deterrence and the victory was the success they won through peaceful protests.
Though the movie is a depiction of this historical movement, it also presents the impact that the campaign had on Martin Luther King’s own life. It shows the personal burden that the movement had on him, and the suffering he felt whenever one of his fellow humans was killed. This representation of the leader’s own struggle presents that for a movement to be truly peaceful, the leaders had to feel and believe in the peace. Attaining peace was a struggle, but it soon became their greatest strength.
Throughout the movie, we are reminded that this was not an individual battle. Within Luther’s own circle, he needed support, he needed his faith, and he needed his family. A strong community is what grants success and a strong community is what Selma shows. It was a community that was not without its disagreements and arguments, but one that remained on the same side despite differences of opinion. The community remained unified, and so the movement was one of unity.
That unity extended outside of the black community, as is shown. The Selma battle became one fought for by white people too. The unity of the campaign drew people in and it was this unity that eventually created pressure for the President, and is what eventually led to the victory. It’s generally known that Martin Luther King won because of the peace. But it wasn’t just peace, it was what peace created: a strong community, unity and solidarity.
The campaign not only drew people in, but also the press. In the movie, the brutal violence shown on screen to millions of viewers brings people from all over the United States to Selma to protest along with the activists. I was sharply reminded of the power of the press; the power that the press has in helping those who are oppressed. They were vital to the success of the movement. It made me sad to be reminded of a time when the press used its power to free, when in our present, it is widely used to oppress.
Selma is a movie that is perfectly balanced and though it is a movie depicting a moment in the past, it is a moment that resounds throughout time. This movie is a voice; a voice for all. It’s a reminder of the Civil Rights Movement, of Martin Luther King, of all those who suffered and who sacrificed themselves for a better future. But it is also a movie and a voice for all those across the world who still suffer and still live in an unjust world and still die for freedom. As the director Ava DuVernay said in an interview, ‘Art morphs with what’s going on in the world’. This movie depicts the past but is part of what is going on in our world now. Selma is a portrayal of a fight against injustice in the past, and simultaneously, is a stand for justice in the present and for the future. ‘Now the war is not over, victory isn’t won, and we’ll fight on to the finish.’